Updated: Sep 2
Introduction and History
The LGBT is an initial that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. The initial has become adopted into the mainstream as an umbrella term for use when labelling topics about sexuality and gender identity.
Homosexual, another umbrella term coined by the sexologists in the nineteenth century, came into popular use in the twentieth century. The very first revolution that remarked the beginning of LGBTQ community movements and rallies for their rights and to gets accepted in the society without any discrimination based on their sexual orientation, was the stonewall revolution on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The last years of the 1960s, however, were controversial, as many social and political movements were active, including the civil rights movement, the counter culture of the 1960s, and the anti-Vietnam war movement. These influences, along with the liberal environment of Greenwich Village, served as catalysts for the Stonewall riots.
India is a South Asian country with a long and complicated history and lots of people came here from all over the world and stayed. The last ones here were Britishers, and they stuck around for over 200 years and left only in 1947. The British Empire criminalized sexual activities and said that it was against the order of nature arguably including homosexual activities, under section 377 of the Indian penal code. It is believed that homosexuality is a western import but it is not. Homophobia is the western import as evidenced by the introduction of section 377 and it is in not just India but several British colonies. The prohibition of homosexual acts as provided for in section 377 of the penal codes of India, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives and Jamaica.
An important question that arises is that what has been happening in India with LGBT laws and issues since the Britishers left in 1947. Shakuntala Devi, a mathematician extraordinaire published the first study of homosexuality in India in 1977 called the world of homosexuals and it called for decriminalization and complete acceptance- not tolerance sympathy. In 1994 and after a prolonged fight for rights, hijras were legally granted voting rights as the third sex.
The Beginning of a Change
1944 marked the beginning of change when the very first petition challenging section 377 was filed in 1994 by AIDS Bhedbhav virodhi Andolan which was eventually dismissed. In 2009 the Delhi high court decision in NAZ foundation vs. Gov. of NCT Delhi found section 377 and other legal prohibitions against private, adult, consensual and non-commercial same-sex conduct to be in direct violation of the fundamental rights provided by the Indian constitution. The point stated that section 377 was violative to article 14 of the Indian constitution as there was unreasonable discrimination based on one's sexual orientation also because it discriminates homosexuals as a class and in article 15 it is stated that discrimination based on sex is discrimination is prohibited. This was a landmark amazing judgment but it didn't last too long.
In April 2014 National legal services authority vs. Union of India, the supreme court of India ruled that transgender people should be treated as a third category of gender. In 2015, a bill for decriminalizing of section 377 was introduced in parliament, but rejected by majority vote. In February 2016 the Supreme Court decided to review criminalizing of homosexual activity. In November 2016, Nammaa pride was the first march in India to be made accessible for persons with disability. On August 24, 2017, India's supreme court has given the country's LGBT community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation and the judgment of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India said that Discrimination against an individual based on sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual and also said that an individual's sexual orientation is protected under the country's right to privacy law.
After all these cases and landmark judgments the following things were a barrier in the LGBTQ community's lives
· Same-sex marriage: not allowed.
· Recognition of same-sex couple: not recognized.
· Step-child adoption by a same-sex couple: not allowed.
· Adoption by transgender people: only in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
· Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military: not allowed.
· Right to change legal gender: only in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
All grieves turned into smiles when the judgment of Navjot Singh Johar vs. Union of India passed on 2018 September 6th. This case overturned a previous ruling Suresh Kumar Kaushal vs. NAZ Foundation by Supreme court of India. The court was asked to determine the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian penal code, a colonial-era law which, among other things, criminalised homosexual acts as an "unnatural offence". While the statute criminalizes all anal sex and oral sex, including between opposite-sex couples, it largely affected same-sex relationships.
Society’s acceptance of the verdict
The society is built upon the rules of the elderly and with a thought process of different people of different religions. Till date the verdict of Navjot Singh Johar vs. Union of India is not wholeheartedly accepted by many religions because this is in a way violating their religious rules or principals. The orthodox elderly see to it as an unethical form of relationship which is against the nature’s rule and also against their religion.
When one speaks about sexuality, it is said to be something that god or nature has put in because there is something god has to provide for the continuance of the human race. We human beings are of diverse minds and have removed the reproduction part and have made sexuality on a larger basis the part where it is used just for pleasure. But eventually this pleasure part is also coming into the sexuality and reproduction part because if there was no pleasure in it then no one would be doing it but to keep it the last resort to continue the human race. So there is no denying to it or putting it under the carpet but somebody has a certain kind of preference which has got nothing to do with the reproductive process. It is their personal preference because every human is free to do whatever they want to do with their body, there is no harm is choosing the sexuality mentally or physically because as per supreme court’s decision it is nobody’s business that what you do in your private space. Now the religious basis of the verdict on the society, it has nothing to do with the religion and we don’t have to discriminate or anything but it is their own business what they do and not do until and unless the people publically promote it.
What do one with an orthodox thinking feel when they see a heterosexual couple?
They think of it as an awkward situation. They think of them as sinner. They even have the guts to go to the couple and ask them pointblank about it and tell/suggest them that this is just a phase and that this is some kind of disease and can be cured so they should get treatment for the same. On the other side the youth of the country has aided in helping this verdict to be more socially acceptable by helping their friends or known to come out of the closet and tell their parents or guardians about their sexuality because it is no shame in letting it out as this is the individual’s decision and they have the right to choose their sexuality. This topic has always been one to slip under the carpet and not to be discussed because some parents don’t accept the sexuality of their children as a different one from what is common and prevailing in the world or the country. Some people look at it as a disease because it is a sick seed that has been planted by the society’s orthodoxy. There will be a real amendment when these people will be ready to take in and accept that this is the human race evolving on the sexuality basis.
We as citizens of this society should help and build the society, which can accept changes like these and be comfortable in accepting these dynamic amendments in a way which will help the growth and development of the society as a whole. No one should feel left out or like they are different from the common, it is no crime to feel for the same sex and we should do everything possible for them to feel like they are the part of the society.
Amity University Rajasthan